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Greece: Lockdown extended indefinitely but stores to reopen

January 15, 2021 GMT
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Pedestrians wearing protective face masks walk past the ancient Agora, in Athens, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Greece's prime minister says the country's retail sector might begin to gradually reopen next week, if the scientists advising the government on the coronavirus pandemic recommend it is safe to do so today. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
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Pedestrians wearing protective face masks walk past the ancient Agora, in Athens, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Greece's prime minister says the country's retail sector might begin to gradually reopen next week, if the scientists advising the government on the coronavirus pandemic recommend it is safe to do so today. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s government has extended nationwide lockdown measures indefinitely but says retail stores and malls will reopen Monday with strict entrance limits.

Civil protection chief Nikos Hardalias said Friday that a nightly curfew, domestic travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders will all remain in effect after being first imposed in early November.

Retail stores, closed since Jan. 3, will reopen with limited entrance and for customers who have filled out permission notices to leave their homes that are usually made available by cellphone message.

The lockdown was imposed on Nov. 7 to fight a surge in cases and deaths that has eased in recent weeks.

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Speaking in parliament ahead of Friday’s announcement, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said each month of lockdown was costing the Greek economy more than 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion).

“I want to be absolutely clear, every opening of economic activity harbors the danger of an increase in (COVID-19) cases,” Mitsotakis said. “As long as this increase in cases is moderate and controlled and as long as it doesn’t put pressure on the health system, it is something we can bear. These are the delicate balances we must find.”

Primary schools and kindergartens reopened this week, but high school lessons are being held online only.

The seven-day rolling average of new deaths per 100,000 population in Greece was at 0.34 on Jan. 13, down from 0.94 in early December. The figure is currently at 0.77 in the European Union and 1.01 in the United States, according to data compiled from national health agencies.

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